Life in the Trenches Essay

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Life in the Trenches An Examination of Living Conditions on the Western Front During the First World War World War I Erupts The First World War erupted in the summer of 1914. Initially the war was met with tremendous optimism as hundreds of thousands eagerly volunteered for duty. British and French recruits greeted by cheering crowds in 1914. War of Movement In the early phases of the war, all combatants launched offensives designed to win the war before Christmas. In the West, German troops crossed the Belgian border in the narrow gap between Holland and France. Strategic Situation in the Summer of 1914. Fighting in the West By the end of August the Allied armies were in retreat and the German First Army began to head for Paris. The French ordered a desperate counterattack and halted the German advance. Unable to break through to Paris, the German army was given orders to retreat to the River Aisne. The Battle of the Marne (September 1914) A Continuous Front For a couple of months, both sides attempted to outflank the other but were unable to achieve any lasting victory. After a few months these trenches had spread from the North Sea to the Swiss Frontier. The Allies soon realized that they could not The front lines shown changed little between break through this line 1915 and 1917. and both sides began to dig in. Stalemate In the West, the Germans decided that they must hold onto those parts of France and Belgium that they still occupied. They were ordered to dig trenches that would provide them with protection from the advancing French and British troops. Trenches were usually about seven feet deep and six feet wide and often possessed deep underground dugouts that housed large bodies of soldiers. A typical trench system. German Trenches As the Germans were the first to decide where to stand fast and dig, they had been

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